I doubt their is any reason for someone taking an Austrian position to argue with a non Austrian school of thought on something like ABCT, or whatever and actually mean anything.
We can only argue about what the nature, scope and definition of not only economics but the social sciences as a whole are if anything is to make sense to any side. Arguing about things that are a mere consequence of the methodology is helping no one, and there is no way it can possibly make sense to anyone.
Austrians may get made fun of for worrying about such "meta" issues, because it isn't fashionable to think about such things; but like it or not, this is ultimately all that matters if one cares about thinking about the Austrian view as the legit way to do science.
But if you think about it: How the hell do you expect to talk to a dialectical materialist, a Keynesian or whatever about anything but the very very basics first? I don't think it can be done. You have to agree on the alphabet before you can construct a sentence.
"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann
"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence" - GLS Shackle
I agree with what you said, but don't forget that one of the main points of debating is to convince the people observing. The Austrian and Keynesian may end up speaking past one another, but hopefully you can convince observers. Some people are really good at breaking complex subjects down. That's the real power in a debate.
There's a lot of truth to this, but there's one thing you are forgetting; most of the people we are talking about have absolutely no idea what they're actually talking about. Most people have no actual methodology which they follow. Indeed I could really argue that Marxists and Austrians are the only schools of thought in the social sciences which actually have a methodology which is really well laid out. Most mainstream economics is a hodgepodge of a priori and posteriori reasoning starting from a whole host of different points, although it tends to be more leftist that they are the more "empirical" they are, but this is by no means a constant.
At any rate, in principle you're quite right, however I don't think that this is something that actually needs to be worried about too much because so many people really are truly clueless.
most of the people we are talking about have absolutely no idea what they're actually talking about. Most people have no actual methodology which they follow.
I tried explaining that concept to a Marxist and got blank a stare. It is too much for them to understand their own premise. I also explained that all Marx promoted was a never ending revolution of the classes (the neverending struggle for State power). "Oh, no the State 'dissolves'!" "Really? Won't the division of labor spring back up?"
Economics, especially, today is just selected mutually exclusive concepts trumpeted with various assumptions.
"Umm, first we assume linearity, since not all information is as relevant as others. Then, we assume that the central bank is inflating the currency at 2.5% per year, and then we can start our study of economics."
Also, tell me if you think that today's economy could be labeled as "democratic mercantilism." The voters are an interest group with the ability to lobby the state for its power and privilege.
Most people have no actual methodology which they follow
I think this is true, however, Caplan does have a point that the mainstream economists do have a methodology and they don't always get full credit from Austrians for it. What is wrong with the mainstream methodology is that it is largely unspoken. This is the case in almost every science nowadays. The methodology is the unwritten rules of what will or will not get published in a journal.
The danger of this approach, of course, is that it creates rigid orthodoxy. Because the methodology is unspoken and because the gatekeepers (journal editors/referees) are the very people who would be criticized by a challenge to the unspoken methodology, the methodology itself becomes dogmatic and above challenge.
So, Caplan's right that there is a methodology. The only problem is that the methodology - by virtue of being largely unspoken - is above challenge and acts as a form of regimentation.
@Neo and Lucky
Oh for sure you guys are correct. Particularly if we are all amatures, it is our responsability to engage the best way we know how and either try to "ascend" or "condescend" to the level of conversation that we enter while not being dogmatic, impatient, etc about anything and take as much of a "machine gun" qpproach to things as we can.
I was a bit unclear in trying to get across in what I was trying to say and in what I was actually thinking. Let me try to ammend:
1) For people who are "Austrian economists" or whatever by trade - I don't see how there could be any issue but what the issue of the social sciences are, and how we actually talk about things. We simply have no business talking to people about currency, depressions, etc who are outside of Austrian economics because I don't think the conversation can really exist in any meaningful context.
The real battle is what social science is. Anything outside of that, or loses that as the focus is bound to cause confusion. I think it is the nature of the school to almost create an Either / Or type position - or at least demand a synthesis before anything else can be done or said.
Frankly, Austrianism should never be associated de facto with any inherent political position on the market at all when entering into any "serious" situation, As it is not a freemarket ideology, nor is it capable to anything politically (other than maybe debunking some things when politics tries to enter science) - it a way of science. And their have been different political conclusions drawn from it. On it's fringes you have people as diverse as Hilferding, Weber (who ought be considerd something of our pure sociology "father), Bohm Bawerk, Shackle, and Schumpeter. While within it taking a complete line or fusing various lines of Menger, Lachmann, Rothbard, Kirzner, Hayek, and Mises results can vary considerably
2) For amatures like us: I think it just makes good sense to keep this in te back of your head. You are always trying to lead someone "down the rabbit hole" to actually get people to see more clearly why you are saying what you are saying - and to lose focus from the basic principles is ultimately going to lose meaning in ust about any conversation at hand.